16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence

16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence : Practical Ways You Can Make Change

In Canada, 2 in 5 women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime and it is estimated that every 6 days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. We know that abusive relationships often stay hidden behind closed doors and that women and children may end up living in dangerous environments for years. If you don’t think this impacts anyone you know – think again. 64% of Canadians know a woman who has experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. The pandemic and ongoing health crises have only intensified the impacts of violence against women and girls. Now – more than ever – we need to come together to support people in our communities facing gender-based violence. November 25 to December 10 is recognized as the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence and there are practical ways that you can foster real change:

          1.    Attend the December 6 Vigil hosted by the Women’s Committee

Unifor Local 199 Women’s Committee invites all members to join us December 6th at the union hall (124 Bunting Road) from 7-830PM for a candlelight vigil and guest speaker from Women’s Place of South Niagara. Attendees are encouraged to bring new women’s pajamas which will be donated to Women’s Place.

We will hold a candlelight vigil and remember the 14 young women who were murdered at Polytechnique Montréal (December 6, 1989) over 30 years ago. This act of violent misogyny shook our country and is what led to designating December 6 as The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. As we mourn their loss and remember their lives, we reaffirm our commitment to fight the hatred that led to this tragedy, and the misogyny that still exists today.

Women’s Place of South Niagara (formerly Nova House and Serenity Place) is an organization that works to stop abuse and violence against women and children by providing safety through shelter, counselling, education, advocacy and community partnerships. Women’s Place will join us in discussing how we can advocate and address the stereotypes that lead to gender-based violence at home and in our communities. Learn more about Women’s Place here

          2.   Donate to Unifor 199’s Pajama Drive

We are also collecting *NEW* women’s pajamas (all sizes) to be donated to Women’s Place of South Niagara. Members are encouraged to bring donations to the union hall.

Contact Kate Semenchuk (ksem22@live.ca), Lorie Peacock or Jessica McCourt (289-228-5967) to arrange alternative drop off. Drop off by DECEMBER 8

          3.   Familiarize yourself with the Signal for Help






The Signal for Help is a simple one-handed signal someone can use to silently show they need help and want someone to check in with them in a safe way. If you see someone use the Signal for Help, check in with the person safely to find out what they need and want you to do. They may want to tell you what is happening, ask you to listen and be there for them or ask for help finding services. *If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local emergency services.

To learn more about how you can best respond to the Signal for Help, check out Responder’s Action Guide. This guide gives you basic information on how to support someone dealing with gender-based violence.

          4.   Get involved with the Local’s Women’s Committee

The objective of the Women’s Committee is to mobilize women on equity and equality issues in the workplace and the community. Some of the initiatives the committee has been involved with include United Way’s Period Promise, International Women’s Day events, yearly December 6th vigil and product drives for community organizations. They have also organized socials including participating in the Mud Girl Run! Keep an eye out for what they’re up to next and join us – remember that together we are #unstoppable!

         5.   Bargain a Women’s Advocate into your Collective Agreement

Unifor has a network of over 475 Women’s Advocates across Canada – these positions have been negotiated into collective agreements. Advocates are available for members who are seeking information, support and referral on gender-based violence. By having a women’s advocate available we help to ensure there is someone to turn to at work when home is not safe. Does your workplace have a Women’s Advocate? If not – consider bringing it to the bargaining table! More info Bargaining a Domestic Violence Policy & Program including a Women’s Advocate here

          6.   Know where to find resources

211 – a useful hub for services in your own communities
Victim Services Niagara   – 24hr Emergency Referral Line – 905-682-2626
Shelter Safe  – an online resource for women and their children seeking safety from violence and abuse
Niagara Sexual Assault Centre –  905-682-4584

          7.   Get the facts

By educating ourselves on the root cause of GBV, myths vs. facts and stereotypes we will help break the stigma that leads to gender inequality and push towards gender justice.
Canadian Women’s Foundation is a great resource if you’re looking to learn more!

          8.   Contact your Women’s Advocate

As a trained Women’s Advocate, I am available for all members who are seeking information, support and referral on gender-based violence including domestic violence whether for themselves or someone they care about. Referrals are available for many issues such as sexual assault, intimate partner violence and other forms of abuse, anger management, mental health and counselling, pregnancy, stalking and divorce/separation.

If you are experiencing violence or have concern for someone you know, please do not hesitate to reach out. Your Women’s Advocate is here to support all members regardless of gender. Privacy and confidentiality are deeply respected. Call, text or email me 289-228-5967 jessica.mccourt@gm.com *If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local emergency services.

In solidarity,

Jessica McCourt
Employment Equity Representative & Women’s Advocate
Unifor Local 199 General Motors Unit